Mauritian - Marriage and Family



Marriage. All groups except Creoles and Mulattoes have ethnically endogamous ideologies of marriage. Sino-Mauritians forge economic alliances between clans through marriage, and their pattern of postmarital residence is patrilocal or neolocal. Hindus are endogamous at the level of caste and are generally patrilocal (but increasingly neolocal in urban settings). Muslims are endogamous at the level of religion; they accept marriages with non-Muslims provided the outsiders convert to Islam. They are also patrilocal, at least at the level of ideology. Memons and Surtees are endogamous in principle, but they are too few to practice this consistently. Franco-Mauritians are endogamous at the level of race; aristocrats further tend to reject marriages with commoners. Postmarital residence is usually neolocal. Mulattoes and Creoles have no strong endogamous ideologies, but marriages with people with lighter skins are favored. The last two groups favor "love matches," whereas the other ethnic groups tend to favor marriages organized by the kin group. The divorce rate is low among all ethnic groups. Muslims and Hindus sometimes acquire wives from India.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family is the norm among Franco-Mauritians, Creoles, and Mulattoes and is an increasingly common form among all urbanites. The average couple countrywide has two children; the number is slightly higher in rural areas and among Muslims. The largest extended families are rural Hindu and Creole families, where the nuclear family forms the core. The former may include the head of household's mother, unmarried siblings, and cousins. The latter may include relatives on both the husband's and the wife's side. Joint families are rarer but they do occur, particularly among Hindus. Nearly all heads of households are men.

Inheritance. Land is as a rule inherited by the oldest son in all ethnic groups. Creoles and Sino-Mauritians have practically no vested interests in land. Other means of production (shops, factories, etc.) are also usually inherited by the oldest son. All other property is partible and can be inherited by daughters as well as by sons. The strongest bilateral tendency in this respect is found among the Creoles. Caste is still important among Hindus, particularly in the three highest varnas (Brahmans, Rajputs, and Vaisyas).

Socialization. Patterns of socialization vary interethnically. Although fathers are expected to be harsh and mothers are expected to be loving in all ethnic groups, the authority of the father is strongest among Hindus, Muslims, and Franco-Mauritians. Among Creoles, the mother alone is responsible for primary socialization. Schools are ethnically mixed, and school attendance is nearly universal from 6 to 13 years. An important rite of passage in contemporary Mauritius is the passing of the certificate of primary education (CPE), since education is universally granted great importance. The literacy rate is about 85 percent. Mauritius has a small university, but many go abroad (to France, Britain, and India) for higher studies.


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